Sunday, August 7, 2022

New Zealand says it is ready to ‘star’ in NASA’s return to the moon

New Zealand is playing its part in a plan to return humans to the Moon, saying it is ready to star in NASA’s capstone mission that will test orbit for the Lunar Space Station.

Rocket Lab has announced that it will launch a satellite from Mahia, New Zealand, to test lunar orbit for Gateway, a planned Moon-orbiting outpost that will give astronauts access to the lunar surface. Separately, New Zealand’s government said on Monday that it has signed a deal with NASA to conduct new research to track spacecraft approaching and orbiting the Moon.

“The New Zealand space sector is ready to join NASA’s capstone Moon mission,” said Andrew Johnson, manager of the New Zealand Space Agency. Launching from New Zealand into lunar orbit is “an important milestone,” while the new research “will be more significant as more countries and private actors send spacecraft to the Moon,” he said.

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NASA’s Artemis program plans to return humans to the surface of the Moon in early 2025, renew human exploration of the Moon and move toward exploration of Mars. It plans to land the first woman and first person of color on the Moon and explore the lunar surface more than ever before.

Rocket Lab said it could launch the CubeSat satellite as early as Tuesday, with the launch window open until July 27.

The announcement comes on the day NASA launched the first of three sounding rockets from a facility in Australia’s Northern Territory, marking the first time the space agency has used a commercial launchpad outside the US in its more than 50-year history. Is.

The three rocket launches will take place between June 26 and July 12 from Arnhem Space Center, a privately owned site and operated by Equatorial Launch Australia.

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“Space is really going through a renaissance,” Australian Space Agency chief Enrico Palermo told Bloomberg television on Monday. “We’ve seen institutions like SpaceX rapidly reduce the cost of getting technology into space. The barriers to doing stuff in space are much lower.” A University of Canterbury-led research team in New Zealand’s agreement with NASA will appear, including contributors from the University of Auckland and the University of New South Wales in Australia, to track the spacecraft from the observatories in Tekapo and Canberra.

The scientists intend to validate their observations and algorithms against NASA’s capstone mission data to predict spacecraft trajectories to and from the Moon within their lunar orbits.

Nation World News Desk
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